Jigsaw puzzle enthusiasts young and old got a chance to showcase their skills during the River Falls Community Education’s Jigsaw Puzzle Competition. In its debut, the competition brought in a field of 20 teams totaling nearly 80 participants to the River Falls High School on Feb. 3.

The teams, composed of up to six people, were allotted two hours to complete the same puzzle from Puzzle Twist, a Duluth-based company. The entry fee was $45 dollars and covered pizza, a drink and the Puzzle Twist puzzle, which teams got to keep. Each team was also asked to bring in a puzzle of their own so that they could participate in a puzzle swap.

Gift cards were awarded to the first-place team ($100) and to the second-place team ($50) to Fox Den Books, who partnered with River Falls Community Education to provide the puzzles.

Finishing first place with a time of 45:36 is “The Tributes” and their members are:  Jillian Pechacek, Juliet Hauk, Nici Lindner & Mandi Reinhardt. Second-place finishers were “The Piece Makers” with a time of 52:20. Their members are: Amanda Marg, Carolyn Brands, Mary Czapeczka, Lauren Marg.

Jennifer Ames, director of River Falls Community Education and Communications, organized the jigsaw puzzle competition after hearing positive reviews from other districts that hosted a similar event. 

“I had heard of it being successful, I come from Minnesota Community Ed and some of the districts had tried it and we always like to share good ideas,” Ames said.

Ames also saw the success of the jigsaw puzzle competition held at the St. Paul Winter Carnival, which she said had around 300 teams. Even with strong examples to lean on, Ames did not anticipate the turnout for her first-ever jigsaw puzzle competition being so high.

“We expected like 5 teams,” Ames said. 

Whenever Ames organizes an event, she does so with the goal of trying to spark engagement and interest amongst the community members. With the jigsaw puzzle competition, she has found something community members are passionate about, and she intends on adding more pieces to it going forward.

“I definitely want it to be an annual thing. We wanted to kind of dip our toes and feel if it was right for this community and it certainly seems to be,” Ames said.

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